A Brief History of St. Jane de Chantal Parish
The history of this parish can be traced to 1825 when missionaries began visiting Abita Springs.
St. Jane’s official founding date is September 7, 1887; on that date a wooden Mission church was dedicated under the patronage of St. Jane de Chantal. In 1920, St. Jane became an independent body and Fr. Martin Barre’, O.S.B., was named to be the Administrator. It was under his leadership that the present brick church was built in 1924, (at a cost of $35,000.00).
St. Jane de Chantal was elevated to the status of a Parish in June 1949; Fr. Athanasius Brugger, O.S.B., became the first Pastor.
The Benedictines (Order of St. Benedict, O.S.B.) from St. Joseph’s Abbey began assisting at St. Jane in 1902, serving as administrators and pastors until 2003, when they could no longer supply a full time member of their community. Pastoral care was then transferred to the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Fr. Robert Cavalier was our first Archdiocesan Pastor.
Because of the geographical size of our parish, Fr. Francis Sander, O.S.B., established a Mission church in Bush, LA on August 2, 1981 under the patronage of St. Michael the Archangel. St. Jane Parish operates as one parish.
Our Patroness – Saint Jane de Chantal
Jeanne-Francoise Fremyot (1572-1641) was not only an exemplary nun, but under the direction and inspiration of St. Francis de Sales, founded an entirely new religious order in the Church (Order of the Visitation). She was also an exemplary Christian woman in every other state of life to which a woman can be called: virgin, wife, mother (of six), and widow.
Thus, the story of this multi-faceted woman should have an appeal to people in every walk of life. While being an exemplary practical woman, she reached at the same time such a state of sanctity that St. Vincent de Paul called her “one of the holiest souls I have ever met on this earth”.
Living in the eastern region of France, she became the Baroness of Chantal upon her marriage to Christophe de Rabutin in 1592. Following his death in 1601 and making provisions for her children, she began her new life as a religious founder at Annecy in 1610. At the time of her death there were eighty-seven (87) convents of the Order of the Visitation.
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Mission
In discussing the church’s history, the Rev. Francis Sander, of the Order of St.Benedict, recalls that, in 1981, a number of Catholic families in Bush were driving 15 to 20 miles to attend church. Concerned that their children were not receiving sufficient religious instruction, parents contacted Sander, who was also pastor of St. Jane de Chantal Church in Abita Springs, about meeting with some of the group in Bush. However, when it was learned that there were about 100 Catholic families in the area, Sander discussed the possibility of starting a mission with the archbishop, who encouraged him to proceed.
After several attempts to find a suitable meeting place, an agreement was reached between Sander and the pastor of the Bush United Methodist Church, the two congregations and the Catholic and Methodist bishops. This paved the way for Mass to be held at the Methodist church, an arrangement that lasted about a year.
Later, 10 acres of land was obtained, and with the help of an anonymous donation of $100,000, construction on the new church began. Currently, the Mission is housed in a multi-purpose building converted into a Church, which serves admirably at present.